A hand opening a pencil case meant to look like a vulva.

How to Do It: Sex Education and the “Sex Life”

In 1696, in Somerset county in southwest England, a schoolboy named John Cannon and his friends took their lunchtime break on the banks of a river near their schoolhouse. Unlike other uneventful riverside lunches, though, this day was memorable enough for Cannon to record in his memoirs. An older boy who was “about 17” years… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news The history of Women’s History Month. The failed Soviet rival to the flapper dress. The mystery of the 1957 gay wedding photos. The historical significance of black queer films. How fashion forensics are helping solve crimes. Is testing the DNA in museum artifacts worth… Read more →

The Lady with the Alligator Purse

A Tisket a Tasket, Three Little Fishies, Baa Baa Black Sheep — these nursery rhymes were an integral part of my childhood experience. The rhyme that most captured my attention when I was a child, however, was Miss Lucy Had a Baby: Particularly fascinating to me were not the presence of the nurse, doctor, or… Read more →

More Recent Articles

Mange, Morphine, and Deadly Disease: Medicine and Public Health in Red Dead Redemption 2

Spoiler warning: This essay discusses major plot points about the ending of Red Dead Redemption 2. It’s dead midnight, there’s moonlight on the corn, and Thomas Downes owes me money. He protests he doesn’t have anything to spare, but I insist he does, and so we end up wrestling against the wood fence. Then, bruised… Read more →

Teaching Abélard and Héloïse

One of the wearying inevitabilities of 2018 was that even the most cursory glance at the news was likely to bring you a fresh tale of sexual assault — in politics, the entertainment industry and, closer to home for me, academia. Much of the resulting commentary was almost as jarring as the news articles themselves…. Read more →

At the Crossroads of Comfort TV and Comfort Food

When I started my PhD, a kind mentor advised me to cope with graduate school’s stresses by eating chocolate and watching lots of TV. I received the same guidance when starting a tenure track position, though the recommendation escalated to watching TV in a (forgivable and deserved) prostrate position. This is survival advice for everyone,… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news Gin, syphilis, and lunacy. A history of the wheelchair. Why we need more black doulas. Teaching “Car Talk” to new docs. Viking women, at home and at war. Fairy tales may be older than we think. The real doctors who inspired M*A*S*H. The camera… Read more →

Elizabeth Warren standing behind a podium and microphone in a black jacket and teal scarf, a campaign sign declaring "WARREN" in large text and "www.elizabethwarren.com" in smaller text. There is a crowd of people behind her.

Manly Firmness: It’s Not Just for the 18th Century (Unfortunately)

The references to “manly firmness” are everywhere in late-18th-century political sources. For example, Edward Dilly wrote to John Adams from London in 1775 to praise the men in the Continental Congress, “for the Wisdom of their Proceedings — their Unanimity, and Manly firmness.” In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson listed the crimes of the… Read more →